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Immaculate Conception - December 8, 2016

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In 1854 Pope Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: “The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin.” 
The Eve described in Genesis stands in contrast to Mary as revealed in today’s Gospel.  Eve as “the mother of all living” is reflected in Mary, the mother of salvation.  The greatest difference lies in each woman’s ability to trust God.

Although Eve had living proof to the contrary, she did not trust that God had her best interests at heart.  She had an abundance of food, experienced God’s love and care, and had a direct relationship with God.  But she could not trust God enough to avoid giving into the temptation the knowledge equals power, and thus ate from the tree the fruit which gave her knowledge between good and bad.

In sharp contrast, Mary who was conceived without sin, is unwavering in her trust of God.  Mary’s life definitely exemplified the challenge Paul wrote about years later which we heard in the second reading:  “so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.”  She freely abandons herself to God saying, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  She places no restrictions or conditions on her consent.  She willingly said yes to her unknown and unknowable future.  Mary’s “Let it be done” response did not prepare her for or protect her from what was to come: the threat of being stoned to death, fleeing for the life of her child, living as a homeless immigrant in Egypt, raising the Son of God and witnessing his miraculous power, helplessly watching the brutal execution of her son, and ultimately experiencing the glory of his resurrection.  She leads us by example and teaches us that trusting in God is the true position of power.  Indeed, in Mary, God has given us a model of discipleship.  She has something to say to parents who have lost children tragically without warning or after much suffering.  She has something to say to couples with relationships on rock ground – remember Joseph was going to divorce her quietly knowing that Jesus was not his son.  She has something to say to those who have lost everything.

This feast is also about God’s ability to bring redemption and love and mercy to our broken world and to our lives through the sacrifice of his son.  This feast reminds us that God through Jesus, our most profound wounds can be healed.  This feast is a reminder of God’s ability to take our sinful nature and redeem it through the forgiveness Jesus earned for us on the cross. Thank you our Mother Mary for your yes to God.  Intercede for us to have your courage, hope, desire to serve God so that we too might exist for the praise of His glory!